When white Evangelicals and fundamentalists show picture books to their children depicting Adam and Eve and all the early humans (such as Noah) as white, it is no different from Afrocentrists teaching their kids that all great Egyptians were black, and that Egyptians gave the Greeks their intellectual and cultural innovations. In both cases, children are being taught racially motivated and ahistorical nonsense. Our earliest human ancestors looked like the San Bushmen of southwest Africa, and may have even used a click language like the San people do now. These are facts (as the New York Times last year so thoroughly surveyed). The evidence is simply overwhelming that the ancestors of all modern humans living today came from either the southeast or southwest part of Africa, and were most closely related to the San people of southwest Africa (who are still living there today).
Put differently: “Adam and Eve”—or the first modern human ancestors of all living people today—whatever name you give them—were black and not white. Period. To deny this in the 21st century, and to teach something otherwise to your children, is not just a gross distortion of history, but racist.
Below is an image of a white Adam and Eve, in Mesopotamia’s Garden of Eden, from a children’s book. Mesopotamia, needless to say, is not even on the African continent, and is thousands of miles northeast of southwest Africa (the home of the San Bushmen):
And here’s a nineteenth century racist depiction of a white Noah (the father supposedly of all humans after the Great Flood) and his apparently all white family. (It makes you wonder where the artist supposed that black, brown, and Asian people came from):
And here is how Adam and Eve are depicted to people visiting the young earth Creation Museum in Kentucky:
And I suppose you have an 8″ x 10″ glossy of them at their iMac sending out e-mails to all their children correcting this misnomer.
It would be more logical to conclude that in terms of skin color, they were not too black nor too white.
No. It’s not a matter of splitting the difference. It is a matter of white parents showing their children images of San Bushmen and saying (because it is true) that this is EXACTLY what the earliest ancestors of all human beings living today looked like. The San Bushmen share the most genetic markers common to all living human beings. Their ancestors are our ancestors, and they came from southern Africa. All of us who are in the human genetic family derive our ancestry out of southern Africa from “first parents” who looked like the San Bushmen. They are our deepest common human link.
To deny Africa this status, and to transfer it over to Mesopotamia and to a white Adam and Eve (or even a conventionally darker skinned Middle Eastern looking Adam and Eve) is racist. It is to distort history; to tell children what is not true.
Because the New York Times did a survey? Did they sample Abraham’s DNA, or Eve’s? And what about the possible humble naivety of the artist who did not think to consider complexion but still had no malice aforethought. And what of adaptation? Being driven out of Paradise to the sweat of the brow, that sounds like some grunt and grind in the sun – God could still have been merciful in adjusting skin tone at a later time.
Our physical differences show forth God’s handiwork. In an age when pictitions are produced more abundantly than any other time of history with the same power as God used to write the Decalogue on stone, it is premature to suppose that which we ultimately don’t even need to know.
If curiosity is still a draw we are assured that “multitudes that sleep in the earth shall be raised”, and thus our quest for knowledge becomes anew. Aside from this, it is a case of insufficient data.
If God exists (and I think it possible), then God is good, God is love, and God is truth. As such, you need never fear the truth. Rather, you should seek it, for in finding it you come closer to God (if God exists).
The two links I offer above report what leading scientists, doing genetic research and seeking the truth of matters, have discovered. They are reading God’s book of nature. They did not test Eve’s DNA, they tested people from all over the world, including the San Bushmen, and they arrived at an astonishing conclusion. If you ask nature questions, you get answers.
We need never fear those answers.
“ to deny this in the 21st century, and to teach something otherwise to your children, is not just a gross distortion of history, but racist.”
And a form of child abuse. (Dawkins).
I have to think about the child abuse part. To label something as child abuse is to open a can of worms about what one then does to protect children from this abuse (in terms of the law). I agree that not telling children the truth is a form of evil—an absence of a good in their lives—but there are lots of ways that secular parents do not tell their children the truth as well (simple neglect to read good books to them will do it).
I agree with Saint Thomas that evil is just the absence of the good. The world is full of entropy, disorder, stupidity, and non-ideal situations. Where the state steps in to protect children from these situations (wherever parents do not) is a tricky matter, isn’t it?
My comment above was deliberately provocative. It is linked to my reaction to your recent post on Damon Linker. His statements, and your unqualified endorsement of them, really riled me.
As I pointed out in my comment on your Linker post, his assertion – that Dawkins was impliedly advocating that “devout parents should be thrown in jail and their children placed in protective custody by the state” – was ludicrous. Nor do I, myself, advocate any such thing.
I generally avoid attacking an existing imperfect situation where I am not able to advance a practical solution or improvement. It is not constructive and very irritating. And I have shredded too many of our left-wing idealistic friends who have a habit of trying it on me.
So, I agree with everything you have said in your above response to me. But, then, you have acknowledged there is a problem. So, where to now?
Returning to Dawkins:
Andrew Clunn took exception to my comment under Linker and referred me to a documentary by Dawkins on the issue of religious schooling in Great Britain. These schools (over 1/3 of the total) are entitled to (and routinely do) restrict entry to children only of parents who are actively involved in worship at a church of the religion in question (which include muslim, catholic and christian fundamentalists) and to require that teaching staff are active members of that religion and are free to specify the content of the course in Religious Instruction. A similar situation applies here in Australia, where such schools total more than 40% of the total. (I have no idea what applies in USA).
Dawkins specifically states that parents should have a right to send their children to such schools. (Note to Damon Linker and his publishers: I hope the fate of your book is that it gets remaindered and pulped). What Dawkins rails against is that these schools are fully funded by the UK government (ie, taxpayers). That is what enrages me here in Australia, too, even though the funding of such schools here is somewhat less generous. And there is a solution. Stop confiscating (taxes) my wealth and giving it to schools which teach children about virgin assumtions, jihad against atheists (= me), and all that other religious b.s. Government funding should be confined to state secular schools, which are open to all.
Santi, did you see this in the news today? I thought it was interesting–although I don’t dispute your larger point in this blog post.
That is fascinating. Thanks for sharing that.
Yes, they may have been drawn white but it isn’t in anyway saying that black people are not perfect. As a matter of fact, Adam and Eve were probably dark skinned anyway! Anyway, thank you for sharing your insights.
The reason that they may have been drawn white is that, when the white people heard about them, they assumed that they were like everyone else they saw in everyday life.
As an update, it seems highly likely that Adam has been raised from the dead. He sings of “Eva”.
A silly post. Most cultures make the biblical narrative their own. Africans often portray all characters in OT and NT as black, Asians as Asian, Native Americans the same. There’s no problem there. Realize this is a day late and 7 years short, but the obvious still needs to be pointed out. Just because whites do what everyone else does, doesn’t make it evil or racist because whites do it. Oddly enough,that would be a very racist view to have.
Ah, no. Two wrongs do not make a right. Whites who teach their children to think of the first humans as white are teaching disregard for science, history, and the extension of brother and sisterhood to all races. Your earliest Homo sapien ancestors were black Africans from Africa, as were mine, as were everyone else’s, and all humans on the planet share a common male ancestor going back approximately 50,000 years. (Mitochondrial Eve may be further back, perhaps 200,000 years.) Humanity in its evolution never bottlenecked at two individuals, in any event. The whole Genesis story is misleading on many, many levels.
So I saw a Japanese television show in which Japanese actors were portraying Arabic businessmen. Dating from around the late 1960s. Does that make them racist? I saw a middle eastern movie about the Crusades. Looking to be from around the mid-20th century. I noticed the crusaders all looked rather Arabic, rather than French or Northwestern European. Does that make that production racist? Perhaps it’s just that human tendency to portray in ways we know and understand. Maybe it’s not always everything about race You just never know.
The resurrected Adam is dark skinned; it seems that Eve is, too.
Of course you are right, and it should be depicted accordingly. I can’t see a single problem with that.